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Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)(Possible)

Site Name Ellon

Classification Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Pinkie Stones

Canmore ID 20510

Site Number NJ93SE 8

NGR NJ 9549 3025

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Ellon
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ93SE 8 9549 3025.

(NJ 9549 3025) Stones (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1959)

The remains of a small circle. There are 5 stones at the site but only 3 of these belong to the circle. Two of the stones stand at the southern and one at the northern side. The stone to the SE measures 3ft 6ins in height and is 2ft 3ins broad. The rounded pillarlike stone to the SW is also 3ft 6ins high but is 1ft 6ins broad. The pointed stone at the northern side is 2ft 4ins high, 1ft 6ins broad. The distance between them suggests that the circle was no more that 20 ft in diameter. The two rounded squat stones in the centre have been added recently (Ritchie 1917). They were all removed in 1938 by the late W Grieve, and deposited along the river bank (Godsman 1958).

Another Another circle is said to have stood at one time near the bank of the Ythan a little further downstream, but no trace of it remains (Godsman 1958).

J Ritchie 1917; J Godsman 1958.

There is no trace of a stone circle or cairn on a slope within a market garden above the River Ythan. This is an unlikely situation for a stone circle, and the description provided by Ritchie suggests that it is more likely to be a later ornamental feature.

Visited by OS (NKB) 13 December 1968.


Publication Account (2011)

In 1938 a small group of stones situated just above the flood-plain on the north bank of the River Ythan in Ellon was removed by William Grieve, a market gardener, ‘who deposited them haphazardly along the river bank’ further upstream, where they may still be seen in the company of a more recent interloper (NJ 95483 30221) (Godsman 1958, 23). The original location of the stones is marked on the 1st edition of the OS 25-inch map (Aberdeenshire 1871, xxxvii.15), but they are not shown as antiquities. Coles was informed about them in 1903 by Henry Mitchell, a respected member of the Buchan Field Club, who described them as ‘some stones of the type usually found in circles with recumbent stone, arranged in a sort of circle’ (1904, 258). Coles, however, who was probably privy to more information than he published, concluded that they had been moved from elsewhere and that their original site was irretrievably lost; consequently he did not pay a visit. It was left to James Ritchie to provide the only detailed record, from which it is clear this was not the remains of a recumbent stone circle, and indeed there is no particular reason to believe that any of the stones had been brought from such a circle. Nevertheless, in Ritchie’s opinion three small pillars no more than about 1m and 0.7m wide had been set upright on the south and north respectively of a small circle no larger than 6m in diameter; the other two stones were low rounded boulders that he believed had been brought from elsewhere (1917, 34–6). His photographs show the ground around the stones sloping down to the edge of the flood-plain, a position that in 1968 led Keith Blood of the OS to suggest that they had been no more than an ornamental construction. Other writers have preferred to follow Ritchie (Burl 1976a, 351, Abn 48; Barnatt 1989, 282, no. 6:38), and more recently Burl has drawn a connection between the entry for Ellon in his gazetteer and a circle in the parish at Fochell mentioned by James Garden in his correspondence with John Aubrey (Burl 2000, 420, Abn 48). Fechil was a steading on the south side of the river (NJ 9690 2971), but contrary to Garden’s contention that Fochell translated as ‘below the chapell’ (Hunter 2001, 120), it probably means a green place or field of pasture (Alexander 1952, 56, 58). The circle that Garden claimed stood on higher ground nearby was presumably to the west near Hillhead of Fechil (NJ 9571 2966), but there are no records of such a structure here, nor of any discoveries that might hint at its existence.

Field Visit (5 October 2016)

What remains of this putative stone circle are situated on a grassy sward to the SSE of the riverside walk on the N bank of the River Ythan. This location is about 50m SSW of the place where they were mapped by the Ordnance Survey in the latter part of the 19th century (1st edition of the OS 25-inch map, Aberdeenshire 1871, Sheet XXXVII.15). The spacing of the stones appears to mimic very roughly their original arrangement, although an additional one has been added since they were described by James Ritchie (1917, 34-36). They are a curious collection which only seem to bear a passing resemblance to those in his photographs (AB 2861, AB 2939 PO). However, one slab (1) measuring 1.4m long by 0.8m broad and 0.6m thick may be the orthostat he describes as standing originally on the SE of the setting, while one of the boulders (D) may be the more southerly of his 'modern additions'.

They are known locally as the Pinkie Stones, as their 19th century location was named Pinkie Park.

Visited by HES, Survey and Recording (ATW, AMcC), 5 October 2016.

Measured Survey (5 October 2016)

HES surveyed Ellon stone circle with GNSS on 5 October 2016 to create a survey drawing at a scale of 1:100. The resultant plan was redrawn in vector graphics software.


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